The 52nd ISSF World Championships in all events took place in Changwon, Republic of Korea from the 31st August through to the 15th September 2018. British shooters achieved some remarkable performances. See below a report from Donald McIntosh.

British Team in Changwon

Some Background Information on the World Championships

Full World Championships, including all ISSF disciplines (Rifle, Pistol, Running Target and Shotgun) are held every four years, two years out from an Olympic Games - a pattern that has been in place since 1954.

The first World Championships were held in 1897, pre-dating the formation of the International Shooting Union - now the International Shooting Sport Federation or ISSF - by ten years. The 2018 Championships were the 52nd.

Separate events for women were introduced in 1958, as were events for Juniors. The latter were discontinued after 1962 and did not reappear again until 1994.

For a few years, additional World Championships for 10m Air Rifle and Air Pistol events were held (1979 - 1991) in the odd years, but these have long since been discontinued. The Shotgun discipline also has World Championships in the odd years between the Olympic Games and the full World Championships. Separate World Championships are now held for Running Target after the complete removal of this discipline from the Olympic Games after Athens 2004.

The World Championships consists of a huge programme of Olympic and non-Olympic events. Finals are held for both Senior and Juniors in the Olympic events plus the 10m Running Target events. All other events are decided after the completion of the qualification rounds.

Team events (all teams of three) are run concurrently with the individual events).

For 50m Rifle, 50m Pistol and 300m Rifle events only, if there are too many athletes entered to accommodate them all on the firing point at the same time, elimination rounds (or heats) are held which consist of the same course of fire as the qualification round and an equal proportion of athletes from each heat go through to the qualification round the following day. In this instance, the team events are held concurrently with the elimination round and there will always be an equal number of athletes from each team in any given relay.

In 2017 a separate World Championships for Juniors was held. It appears that the plan going forward is for the Senior and Junior Championships to separate. Senior World Championships will be held every two years instead of every four, in the odd years immediate prior and after the year of an Olympic Games.

There is a very rich history of the medal winners of the World Championships available on the ISSF website.

Large Group

There were significant changes to most of the Women’s events in 2018. Those where the qualification round course of fire differed from the men’s course of fire were changed to consist of the same number of shots/targets as the corresponding men’s events. These changes included:

  • 10m Air Rifle and 10m Air Pistol Women changed from 40 to 60 shots
  • 50m Three Positions Rifle changed from 3x20 to 3x40 shots (that means 40 shots in each of the three positions instead of 20 - a 100% increase!)
  • Trap and Skeet Women changed from a one day 75-target event to a two day 125-target event.

Three new mixed-pairs events were included:

  • 10m Air Rifle
  • 10m Air Pistol
  • Trap.

These three have also been included in the Olympic Programme for Tokyo 2020.

GBR Results in Changwon

In terms of GBR performances in Changwon this year, the results are easily accessible:

The NSRA Facebook page has some Photography from Changwon 2018

Small Group

Rifle highlights include:

  • Ken Parr was 8th in the Men’s Prone event. Until the removal of the Men’s Prone from the Olympic programme, this would have achieved qualification for the final, however the change in Olympic status meant that the event was decided after the 60-shot qualification round. This was an excellent result and the best by a GBR athlete in this event since Jon Stern’s 6th place in Milan, 1994.

  • The Women’s Prone Team of Seonaid McIntosh, Jen McIntosh and Zoe Bruce took the Bronze medal. Jen and Seonaid shot on the first relay, Seonaid placing second and Jen 15th amongst the 48 athletes. Germany had a commanding lead at this point, with GBR and Denmark just ahead of the chasing pack. Zoe was making her debut at this level of competition and had a shaky start, but recovered after a nervous first five shots and shot steadily for the rest of the competition to finish strongly. She qualified 25th from the field of 38 and anchored the team to the Bronze medal, only 0.6 behind Denmark with the German Team more than twenty points ahead. This is the first ever medal in a 50m Rifle event for a GB Woman’s Team at the World Championships and the only other female team to secure a rifle medal came at the 10m-only World Championships in 1979 where Sarah Cooper, Irene Daw and Leslie Dodds came third in the 10m Air Rifle event.

  • The next day, Seonaid won the individual Women’s Prone title, with a perfect last shot of 10.9. During the competition there are scoreboards visible to spectators with a live ranking based on the average shot-value to date and it updates every few seconds. Seonaid was sitting in the top ten, just below the medals, for the first two-thirds of the match. A really strong fifth string lifted her into the medal zone and she was oscillating between 2nd and 3rd at that point. She had just moved up to first after 55 shots when she fired a 9.6 for her 56th shot, which dropped her immediately to third place. She put the rifle down at that point and took a short break to compose herself. Getting back into position she started with a 10.8 followed by two 10.3s and then finished with a remarkable 10.9. At this point, with almost everyone else finished, she was guaranteed at least the silver medal, but Straub of Germany had one last shot to fire. I ran down the back of the line to watch her fire it, knowing a 10.5 would be enough to win. Fortunately (for us) it was a 10.2 and Seonaid’s win was secure.

    You can see the plot of Seonaid’s shoot on the ISSF website.

    This is the first EVER individual World Championship win for a British woman in the history of the ISSF World Championships, across all the disciplines. There have been individual Silver and Bronze medals in Women’s Trap and Skeet, there have been team Gold medals again in Women’s Trap and Skeet, but this is the first ever individual Senior title for a British Woman.  

    There have been quite a few Junior World Championship wins in both Rifle and Shotgun, but the last British man to win a Senior individual title was Peter Boden in 1991 when he won the Men’s Double Trap in Perth. In terms of rifle, this is the first individual title by a British shooter since 1990 when the late Malcolm Cooper won the last two of his six individual 300m World Championships. The last 50m Rifle World Championships won by British shooters came in 1978 - also in Korea, but in Seoul rather than Changwon - when Alister Allan won the Men’s 50m Prone and Bob Churchill won the Men’s 50m Kneeling.

  • In the Women’s 3P Match, Seonaid took the lead in the kneeling position with 394 and after steady prone of 395 she remained in first place. A solid 386 standing saw her drop of the top spot in qualification, but only by one point and her 1,175 equalled her own British Record shot earlier in the year at the World Cup in Munich. Qualifying for the final was in itself an immense achievement - prior to this she hadn’t placed higher than 28th at a World Cup - but she is the reigning European Champion so it wasn’t a complete surprise. She became the first British Woman to qualify for the final of a Three Positions event at a World Championships. Separate Championships for Kneeling and Standing used to be awarded based on the scores shot as part of the overall 3P Match. These were unfortuantely discontinued after 1990, but it is interesting to note that Seonaid also had the highest score in the Kneeling Stage of the Women’s 3x40 Match - perhaps she can claim to be the unofficial World Champion in Kneeling as well?

    In the final, she was third after the Kneeling, moving up to second after the Prone with some stunning groups in the second and third series of five shots. After the first two series in the Standing position she had dropped to third, but still looked set for a medal. As the pressure built she held onto third for two more shots and with four athletes eliminated she knew that a Quota Place for Tokyo 2020 was secure. Unfortunately, the next shot was to prove expensive and she was eliminated in fourth place. A tough place to come as always, but the Olympic qualification was secure and cushioned the blow a little.

    You can see the plots of Seonaid’s qualification/final on the ISSF website:

These World Championships were the first opportunity to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games and full details of how the qualification system works can be found on the ISSF website. Seonaid is the only GB athlete to have secured a Quota Place at this early stage. This does not guarantee her selection.

British Shooting have published a draft Selection Policy which can be found on their Policies Page under the heading "British Shooting Selection Policies".

Kindly contributed by Donald McIntosh